(7 Sep 1931- 3 Jan 2009)
We regret to announce the death of Prof. Charles Camilleri on 3 January 2009 at the age of 77.
Charles Camilleri is considered Maltas National composer and one of the most individual and innovative composers of our time. He did for Malta what Vaughan Williams had done for England by collecting the folk music of his country and developing it in many of his works, notably the Malta Suite. His Clarinet Concertino, which also bears folkloristic influences has become one of his most popular works, particularly the slow movement, which is often requested on such as BBC3 and Classic FM.
His Organ Concerto opened the Three Choirs Festival in Gloucester Cathedral in 1983. An earlier massive organ work, Missa Mundi, written in 1973 was greatly inspired by the spiritual writings, the Mass of the World in particular, of the French Jesuit philosopher, Teilhard de Chardin. In the words of the musicologist, Basil Ramsay, Camilleris vision parallels Chardins thought within the language of music. Both become as one in their spiritual journey
His Cello Concerto was premiered at the Helsinki Festival and his 3rd Piano Concerto in St Petersburg (Leningrad). He wrote several oratorios, notably Pawlu ta’ Malta, and operas, such as The Maltese Cross and Compostella, on libretti by Fr Peter Serracino Inglott, as well as Il-Weghda (The Promise), a folk opera, probably the first in the Maltese language, based on a play by Joe Friggieri.
Shortly before he was struck down by his illness, he wrote his New Idea Symphony, which has been recorded in Glasgow by the Royal Scottish National Orchestra under Brian Schembri. It is also receiving its first public performance in Brussels on January 13.
Charles had a wonderfully warm and generous personality. He possessed a wisdom and insight which led people in all walks of life to seek and respect his thoughts and opinions, and not necessarily in the field of music. He was totally unselfish in allowing his music to be used to raise funds for many charities, the first of which being the recording of his Malta Suite and other works in aid of the Dar tal-Providenza Residential Homes in Malta.
He was an inspiration to musicians and music students and his influence has raised the level of music making in Malta to a new level. As founding professor of the Faculty of Music at the University of Malta, he has left a significant and lasting legacy which will serve generations of musicians for years to come.
A fellow member of the Russian Grand Priory in Britain, he made his works available for a number of fund raising concerts in London. He also wrote and dedicated the anthem, which may be heard on this site.
The achievements of Charles Camilleri were recognised and celebrated at his funeral Mass in Naxxar Parish Church, Malta in the presence of The President, the Prime Minister and a grieving congregation from every quarter of the island and abroad. Flags were flown at half mast when news of his death was announced.
His family and many close friends will treasure his memory and forever be grateful for having been touched by his life. Thankfully his posterity is assured through the many recordings which have been made of his works.
May he rest in peace.